John G. Hanhardt
Andy Warhol’s Video&Television (1993)

Язык оригинала: английский

This essay represents a preliminary discussion of Andy Warhol’s creative involvement in video and television, and is the result of work on The Andy Warhol Film Project. After initial discussions with Warhol discussions with Warhol and his associates, my colleagues and I began to research and assemble the films and film-related materials in a top-floor room of his studio at 22 East 33rd Street, the current location of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. The room immediately adjacent was filled to the ceiling with furniture, toys, and gumball machines, all the stuff of Warhol’s avid collecting. Down the hall from the film room was a video workspace outfitted with cameras, monitors, and editing equipment - the means to produce videotapes and television programs.

I had always been curious about how Andy Warhol worked with video, especially in light of his original interest in film, his later use of Polaroid and Polavision, and his increasing personal involvement in mass and commercial media through appearances on television and in advertising endorsements. The instantaneous quality of the recorded video image and the public aspect of television appeared to be compelling and attractive to Warhol. Unfortunately, I never did have extensive talks with him about his video and television projects. However, I have begun to piece together an outline of this aspect of Warhol’s work, through an examination of clippings, scripts, and related documentation, and through conversations with Vincent Fremont, Warhol’s associate and now executive director of The Andy Warhol Videotape Preservation Project at The Estate of Andy Warhol, Don Munroe, director of the television shows, and Paul Morrissey, director of Warhol’s later films at the Factory - where, in 1965, Warhol first used video. In 1965, a video magazine offered to lend Warhol a Norelco reel-to-reel video recorder and player in order to write an article about his use of the equipment. It was definitely a learning experience, with Paul Morrissey, who was emerging as Warhol’s key film adviser and later director, behind the camera. They encountered numerous problems working with the equipment, and no projects were initiated or developed. However, pieces were shot, including party and dance footage and a sequence showing Billy Name getting a haircut on a fire escape. An extraordinary sequence shows Edie Sedgwick in profile, speaking to Andy Warhol off-screen about Alice in Wonderland as idea for a film and about the play of initials between Andy Warhol and Alice in Wonderland. This work was deliberately experimental, though the lighting and black background, along with the off-screen interview technique, were to be developed further in the television shows. Yet the Norelco material, which is in the process of being restored and preserved, was a short-lived experiment at the Factory. Frustration with the equipment led Warhol to abandon video. It was in the beginning of 1970, when Warhol acquired a Sony Portapak, a reel-to-reel 1/2-inch system, that he seriously began to explore the video medium. This was shortly after he had started to publish Interview magazine (October1969) but before Vincent Fremont came on staff full-time with the Andy Warhol Studio in 1971. These events were significant: Fremont and Warhol began developing test ideas for ongoing television series. While none of these initial test pieces went into final production, they provided the creative and technical impetus for commercial television production at the Andy Warhol Studio. Interview magazine ultimately served as a model for “Andy Warhol’s TV,” which adopted a format of interviews and stories on photographers, models, actors, and fashion. Fremont would play an important role in developing television projects for Warhol. In early 1970, however, Warhol was not directly making movies, although film productions directed by Paul Morrissey, such as “L’amour” (1970) and “Andy Warhol Presents Flesh for Frankenstein” (1973), were being released under his name. Warhol himself was shooting video around his home and studio; through the end of 1972, Michael Netter, a college student, did a lot of the camera work. By 1973 the Studio had two Portapaks that were used to document various trips (such as Fremont traveling with Peter Beard in Africa) and the Factory diaries, which began in earnest in late 1971 and continued, first in black-and-white and later in color, regularly through 1976 and more infrequently thereafter. Warhol had installed in the old Studio at 33 Union Square West a rather intimidating video setup, consisting of a motorized camera turret with remote control, placed on a cart with self-contained lights and a switcher for special effects, which was wheeled around to document visitors and activities in the Studio. At one Christmas party a camera with a wide-angle lens was set up near the door; another camera with directional microphones was positioned across from the Studio couch to record the action. This rig most closely resembled a bank vault camera: stationary, with a fixed lens, running uninterrupted. Fremont described how he gradually became involved with Warhol’s video work; after 1972 he had to be on call to set up the video camera and lights. “Andy,” Vincent said, “would have liked the camera to run constantly.”

During this time, Warhol was involved in developing, with Vincent Fremont, ideas and scripts for television. The first of these, “Vivian’s Girls” (1973), was to be a television show loosely structured around a group of models and drag queens who were living together. Shot on location, it featured Brigid (Polk) Berlin, Candy Darling, Nancy North, Paul Palmero, and others. The production, which was never finally edited or shown, played with soap opera forms and, according to Fremont (who scripted it), was inspired by both “The Chelsea Girls” (1966) and Gregory La Cava’s “Strage Door” (1973). “Vivian’s Girls” evolved into another video production, “Phoney” (1973), which featured conversations on the telephone, with Candy Darling as one of the performers. “Phoney” and a third production, “Fight” (1975), were both shot on location. “Fight” featured Charies Rydell and Brigid (Polk) Berlin with some additional scenes between Rydell and Sylvia Miles. The narrative was constructed around a couple constantly raging at each other within the closed and constricted space of a small apartment. The improvised tape sought to strip a soap opera melodrama down to scenes of an argumentative couple. Shot with a Portapak, the tape was recently edited down by Fremont to its planned 30-minute running time.

By 1977 Warhol was focusing exclusively on video and television projects - gathering ideas and learning about the medium and production process, doing interviews and shooting videotapes around the Studio. He even had a set constructed at 860 Broadway that was designed to look like the front of a house and that he used to videotape interviews. In1979 Warhol began to develop a television show about fashion and celebrities with the working title Fashion. He hired Don Munroe, who was employed in Bloomingdale’s in-house video department, to direct all the television shows, with Warhol as executive producer and Fremont as producer. In its first incarnation in 1979, Fashion focused on individual fashion designers; each show was 30 minutes long and contained no advertising. Following Fashion, from 1980 to1982, Andy Warhol’s TV was developed with a segmented format covering various subjects. Warhol bought a half-hour time slot on Channel 10, Manhattan Cable Television in New York. For more than a year, the Warhol Studio tried to sell Andy Warhol’s TV to Home Box Office (HBO), CBS Cable, and Public Broadcasting System’s (PBS) Channel 13 in New York. Then Peter Rudge, a former music promoter who developed non-sports programming for Madison Square Garden Network (MSG), a sports cable channel seen in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut area, bought twelve shows for MSG. Nine were completed in 1983, after which production was stopped by mutual agreement. The individual programs presented quick-paced interviews and fashion segments with Harvey Fierstein, Sting, Clio Goldsmith, Ali MacGraw, Peter Beard, Cindy Sherman, Betsey Johnson, Steven Spielberg, and Halston. Memorable moments include Henry Geldzahler’s conversation with Diana Vreeland about young men on skateboards; and a slick documentation of an lssey Miyake fashion show aboard the American aircraft carrier lntrepid, now a military museum in New York, which had seen action in the Pacific during World War II.

In 1979, Lorne Michaels, then executive producer of “Saturday Night Live,” had met with Warhol to discuss the possibility of producing a 90-minute Warhol special. Thought Warhol said no partly because the arrangement gave him insufficient artistic control, the more important reason was that he wanted an experienced production team of his own in place before committing to such projects. It wasn’t until late that year that Fremont hired Don Munroe to serve as director-cameraman of the Andy Warhol Studio’s television production capability, Warhol bought broadcast-quality equipment, including cameras. In 1981 Nelson Lyons, a writer-friend who worked for the then producer of “Saturday Night Live,” Dick Edersol, asked Warhol to be a guest host; instead, Warhol agreed to produce three 1-minute pieces to be inserted into the show. Each one features Warhol, and two of them are particularly powerful. In one, Warhol, while casually eating an apple, questions why anyone would be at home watching television on Saturday night; the other shows Warhol talking about being a fashion model, and we see him applying makeup as he talks about death - the sequence ends with the image becoming increasingly abstract through image processing. The third piece features Warhol on the telephone planning his night at the discos and telling a joke. In all three Warhol presents himself as a performer, a stand-up comic and commentator, fashioning an image of himself for and through television. These short pieces are also significant for Warhol’s acknowledgement of a gay sensibility and live-style.

In 1985 Andy Warhol TV Productions developed its first pilot, entitled “Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes,” for Music Television (MTV), a national cable station. In addition to the pilot, four programs were produced. Originally planned to be 15 minutes in length, each was expanded to 30 minutes with advertisements. The programs featured a distinctive mix of pop celebrities, fashion designers, and musicians, and were developing a distinctive look, with a “Brady Bunch” logo and Warhol’s increasing ease before the camera. His last taping for the program was an appearance with Miles Davis in a fashion show at the Tunnel, a Manhattan club. Due to Warhol’s extreme ill health at the time of shooting, this segment was never released. “Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes” ended in1987 after Warhol’s death (his funeral was included in the last program). Its attraction was its playful juxtapositions of celebrities and composite view of popular culture. Segment followed segment without elaborate bridges, so that Warhol assumed the casual role of master of ceremonies without being locked into a formula. The show’s quality varied according to the performers and personalities available and the obviously fast-paced production schedule. Looking back over these videotapes and television programs produced by and featuring Andy Warhol as host and personality, it is important to remember that after the attempt on his life in1968 he increasingly assumed the role of producer, rather than director. Gradually, he turned first to video and then to television. His effort to represent himself on television in a sense parallels his own physical rebuilding through gym workouts. Warhol’s attention to his physical appearance was part of an effort of self-representation and expression through his body. He began to place himself within the life-style he desired, the world of fashion, models, movie stars, the glitter of fashion and clubs. In doing so he left behind the stance of the “cool” observer on the periphery of the Factory, a space in which he constructed a “scene” under his gaze. In the 1970s Warhol turned his gaze outward and employed television as a means to embrace and participate in that life-style.

In 1980, Warhol began making public appearances, doing fashion show runway performances that fulfilled his desire to be a male model. He joined the modeling agency Zoli Management, Inc., around 1979 and subsequently the Ford Model Agency, where he received special bookings. Modeling helped Warhol overcome his shyness, meet models and photographers for his TV show, and work out his fantasies. Television also became a way for Warhol to construct himself as a personality, interview stars, and see himself refashioned for television. It played the key role in transposing him from an art world figure to a pop culture celebrity. According to Fremont, he loved the idea of television, of seeing himself improve as an onscreen actor and presence, and of ad-libbing and being recognized on the street. The TV shows are like Andy’s posthumously published diaries, a quixotic search for fame and amusement. The Factory diaries and TVshows provide a unique record of American pop culture and the art world crossing over to embrace each other, of a breakdown of barriers that changed art into a public performance ready to be consumed. Andy Warhol was the maОtre d’ and chef for this new art world of the 1980s.

There were other Warhol video productions and projects in addition to the cable television programs. After the purchase of broadcast-quality production equipment in 1979, Andy Warhol TV Productions geared itself up to do industrial, music, and fashion videos for such clients as Henry Grethel, Nicole Miller, Carlos Falchi, and Bottega Veneta, and made further plans for other television productions. Warhol also appeared in television commercials for Tri-State Pontiac, a New York-area automobile dealer (1986), a national campaign for Diet Coke (1985), and in Japan for the videotape manufacturer TDK (1983). In addition, he appeared in print adds such as l.a. Eyeworks. Andy Warhol TV Productions produced music videos for a number of artists including Miguel Bose, Curiosity Killed the Cat, Ric Ocasek, and The Cars. Warhol played himself in two of these:“Hello Again” (1984) for The Cars and “Misfit” (1986) for Curiosity Killed the Cat. These appearances were part of the process of self-representation, and they fit into Warhol’s self-image as an icon and model, performer and sign of himself. In “Hello Again”, the production makes reference to Warhol’s earlier filmmaking and features Andy as a bartender.

At this same time, commercial television and Hollywood beckoned, and Andy was offered the opportunity to develop a big-budget pilot, but he turned it down, again because he would have insufficient creative and financial involvement. However he did appear on one of America’s most popular TV shows, “The Love Boat,” in 1985. This came about through Douglas Cramer, co-producer of the show, who was a major art collector. “The Love Boat” had a formulaic, pedestrian structure based on guest appearances; like “Andy Warhol’s TV,” it produced a perfect vehicle for Warhol, star of his own TV show, model, actor, and famous artist, to appear as himself as a celebrity-actor.

Before his death, Andy had begun to work in film again. Prior to the publication of Tama Janowitz’s novel, “Slaves of New York,” Warhol optioned film and television rights to it. According to Fremont, Warhol had plans to develop a variety of feature film and television projects. Thus, the Andy Warhol Studio became the producer of a whole range of entertainment products. In a sense, Warhol had returned to his origins in the fashion and commercial worlds, joining both through his presence as the consummate showman - the embodiment of the artist as the creative center of consumer culture.

Selected Bibliography:

1. Bockris, Victor. Warhol. London: Frederick Muller, 1989.
2. Colacello, Bod. Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up. New York: Harper Colins Publishers. 1990.
3. DiMatteo, Robert. “CableVision Reviews”. CableVision. August 22. 1983. p. 27.
4. Goldner, Diane. “Andy Takes to the Air”. The Soho News. December 3. 1980. p. 13.
5. Hackett, Pat., ed. The Andy Warhol Diaries. New York: Warner Books. Inc., 1989.
6. Hanhardt, John G. “A propos des films d’Andy Warhol”. In Andy Warhol, Cinema (exhibition catalogue). Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou. 1990. p. 153-166.
7. Hanhardt, John G. and Gartenberg, J. The Films of Andy Warhol: An Introduction (exhibition brochure). New York: Whitney Museum of American Art. 1988.
8. Jones, Alan. “Andyvision: From Silkscreen to TV Screen”. New York Talk, 2 (September 1985), p. 44-47.
9. Loevy, Diana, and Visser, Veronica. “From Campbell’s Soup to Cable”. Home Video, 2 (November 1981). pp. 54-55, 57-58.
10. Tuler, Ralph. “Warhol Plus Friends Pop Up on Ch.B.” On Cable, 4 (September 1983), p.28-A.

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